favorite image from the weekend ..

This enigmatic image is my favorite from an event I helped photograph this weekend.  A performance artist at a Bar Mitzvah party  had this incredible act with a massive balloon which he’d manipulate, and dance with, and dance into, and dance out of.  You really need to see a video clip of it.   One of the many images I took during this sequence was this one where he moved right into the guests who were watching him.

The lighting on him was from the videographer who was kneeling next to me.  Since his act was so unique, and so fast-paced .. and the lighting changing, I wanted to make sure I covered all bases.  I therefore shot alternate frames as fast as I could .. with flash, and without flash.  This way I can always pick out afterward what works best.  I really like having both options to choose from in situations like this.  I want some photographs with flash to make sure I have well-lit images … but also some without flash, just in case the flash completely destroyed the mood and look of the photographs.  

The way that I easily disable the flash with a button push, is by setting custom function F6 on the Nikon D3 body to disable flash output.  It is the same for the D700, and if memory serves me, it is similar for the D300.   With F6 set to disable flash with the push of the button with my thumb, it is very simple to take images with and without flash. 

This is how I do the comparative images on this website, where I show what the ambient light looked like, and how an image looks with flash added.   Unfortunately there is no easy way to do this on Canon D-SLRs.

In post-processing the image, I had to bump up the Exposure in raw processing by 1 stop.   To saturate the colors like that, I went in to Lab mode and made a few adjustments.  (More about that in follow-up posts on how to make your images pop in Photoshop.)

Here is what it looked like with bounce flash ..

This works too.  In shooting alternate images with and without flash, I was making sure that I had something that worked.

Another image with just the available light, which is the DJ’s lighting from behind.

Back to the post-processing, here is the image with my default settings in ACR (but with exposure bumped up by a stop.)

… and how the image looks (as posted at the top), by manipulating it a little bit in Lab mode.
This is something I’ll cover more specifically in follow-up posts.
The results?  An image that looks mysterious … and ‘pops’ even more than the original.

All images with the Nikon D3, and the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S
Camera settings for the main image at the top:  1/100 @ f3.2 @ 2000 ISO
Camera settings for the other two images:  1/80 @ f2.8 @ 2000 ISO

9 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1matt Heath says

    These are fantastic, and I look forward to the follow up posts on post production. These recent posts on post production are fantastic, and a real help, thanks!

  2. 2Joost says

    Hi Neil,

    thanks for another excellent post :).

    I tried to set the disable flash function on my D3s, but it doesn’t seem to work?
    It just keeps flashing, regardless on wether I shoot on M, A, S ,M, TTL… any clue?

    Thanks again!


  3. 3 says

    Joost, it should work. I originally used the Function button to disable flash, as mentioned on my page on the Nikon D3 custom settings. But it proved too awkward a grip on my camera to use my ring finger like that. So I ended up using the AE-L / AF-L button on the back of my camera to disable flash.

    Go to custom function f6, and select it to Flash Off. That’s all there is to it, but you have to keep the button pushed in. : )

    Now when you want to disable flash, it is a simple nudge of the button with your thumb. And since I shoot in manual metering mode, I don’t need an AE-L button. I also have the AF-On button set to lock focus.

    Neil vN

  4. 4rafiayub says

    Hi Neil,
    Its a color feast. thx
    Almost all photos-may be am wrong-, following the rule of thirds(golden)without a slight break. Should we follow it for the portraits of wedding/parties)?

    You said,’unfortunately there is no easy way to do this on Canon D-SLRS’.
    Can you please explain what you will do if you are shooting with Canon D-SLR for the same?

  5. 6Noel says

    “Unfortunately there is no easy way to do this on Canon D-SLRs.” – How about turning the switch off on your Speedlite? A lot easier IMO compared to configuring a custom function.

  6. 7 says

    Noel, doing it this way on the Nikon D-SLR bodies is but a slight roll of the right thumb. Ergonomically much easier, and in practice much faster than switching the speedlight on and off.

    Neil vN

  7. 8 says

    wow! as always, your work is purely amazing. My first reaction is “Gorgeous shot”. My second reaction is “wow, kids today have crazy money spent on their Bar Mitzvahs”! LOL

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